The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 18, 2013

21 invasive pythons killed so far in Fla. contest

(Continued)

He continued to low-ball expectations for the final tally. "I'm happy with 11. I'm going to be happy with whatever we have. The small number only proves that they're really hard to find," he said.

The state hopes to use the information from python necropsies — particularly what's in their stomachs — to improve their attempts at dealing with the snakes.

"Our list of what pythons eat is not complete yet," Mazzotti said.

The population of Burmese pythons, an invasive species in Florida, likely developed from pets released into the wild, either intentionally or in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. They can grow to be more than 20 feet long and have no natural enemies in Florida other than very large alligators or cold weather, which drives heat-seeking snakes onto sunny roads and levees.

Florida prohibits owning or selling pythons for use as pets, and federal law bans importation and interstate sale of the species.

Mazzotti had one tip for hunters frustrated by the pythons' near-invisibility: Stop and listen for a dry, rustling sound in the grass.

"It sounds like something large," he said.

 

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